Moku‘ula is the site of the private residential complex of King Kamehameha III from 1837 to 1845, when Lāhainā was the capital of the kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands.
The site is a traditional home for Maui royalty, noted as being the site of King Pi‘ilani’s residence in the sixteenth century.
Almost the entire site, which consisted of fishponds, fresh water springs, islands, causeways, retaining walls, beach berms, residential and mortuary buildings, was buried under a couple feet of coral and soil fill in 1914.
Under a County Park for over a century, the site is in the process of being uncovered and eventually restored by the Friends of Moku‘ula and others.
Although most widely associated with the period of Kamehameha III, the site appears to be a place of traditional Native Hawaiian cultural significance. The islet of Moku‘ula, located in the fishpond of Mokuhinia, was a sacred place protected by royal kapu (taboo).
According to Kamakau, it was considered a grotto of a royal protector deity named Kihawahine or Mokuhinia, who traditionally swam through the surrounding fishpond of Mokuhinia in the form of a giant lizard (mo‘o.)
The goddess was a deified princess, daughter of Maui king Pi‘ilani of the sixteenth century, whose family resided at the site.
Kamehameha I, upon his conquest of Maui in the late eighteenth century, adopted this deity. His sons and successors, Kamehameha II and III, were of the indigenous Maui royal family through their mother, Keōpūolani.
The lizard goddess Kihawahine ranked in no small part as the guardian of the succeeding Kamehameha dynasty that was in the process of unifying the archipelago.
A continuing association of religious function, as a shrine to Kihawahine, continued at this site from the days of Pi‘ilani to the establishment of the royal residence by Kamehameha III.
Archaeological and historical investigations demonstrate that the surrounding Loko Mokuhinia pond was the site of indigenous Hawaiian aquaculture and pondfield (taro lo‘i) agriculture.
The royal complex established by King Kamehameha III in the early nineteenth century consisted of a large (over 120-feet by about 40-feet,) two-story western style coral block ‘palace,’ “Hale Piula,” on the beachfront of the site (intact from 1840 to 1858).
Due to lack of funds, however, it was never entirely completed and only rarely used, and then only for state receptions or meetings of the legislature.
Located immediately to the east of this coral block building was the large fishpond Mokuhinia containing a one-acre island linked by a short causeway from Hale Piula.
On this sacred island of Moku’ula was a cluster of traditional grass houses (hale pili) that were used as a secluded, private residence for the king and his household from 1837 to 1845.
The island of Moku’ula was surrounded by a stone retaining wall, and the causeway to Hale Piula was guarded by a gate with sentries during this particular historic period.
The king’s beloved sister, Princess Nāhi‘ena‘ena, was buried at Moku‘ula in early 1837. Grief-stricken, the king decided to live next to his sister’s tomb for the next eight years.
Archaeological subsurface excavations have ascertained that portions, if not most, of the encompassing retaining wall of Moku’ula is still intact beneath about 3-feet of soil and coral fill.
Other important features discovered include a preserved wooden pier that extended from the eastern shore of the island into Mokuhinia pond, postholes that might date from the period of Kamehameha Ill’s residence, and cut-and-dressed basalt blocks from near the tomb area.
The focal point of the complex, however, was a large stone building used as a combination residence and mausoleum. It was built on Moku‘ula in 1837 to house the remains of the king’s sacred mother, sister, his children and other close members of the royal family.
Bernice Pauahi Bishop, last legal descendent of the Kamehameha dynasty, had the royal remains moved from Moku‘ula to the churchyard at adjacent Waine‘e Church (Wai‘oli Church) ca. 1884.
The Friends of Moku‘ula are in the process of restoring Moku‘ula, with the goal of eventually including a Native Hawaiian cultural center. It is becoming a reality.
This project has got to be one of the most exciting restoration efforts in a very long time, and a very long time to come. Beneath a County Park in Lāhainā is one of Hawai‘i’s most historical and sacred treasures.
Keep an eye on this, because this is a waaay cool thing.
Find out more here (and join and/or contribute to the cause:) http://www.mokuula.com. The image is a rendering of the restored Moku‘ula site and surrounding Lahaina. In addition, I have included other images and maps in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
Kaumuali‘i was the only son of Queen Kamakahelei and her husband, Aliʻi Kāʻeokūlani (Kā‘eo;) he was born in 1778 at Holoholokū, a royal birthing heiau specifically designated for the birth of high ranking children.
When Vancouver was anchored off Waimea, Kaua‘i, he became interested in Kaumuali‘i, who was then about twelve years old. Vancouver found the child quiet and polite and good-tempered. He was interested in the new things which he saw, and asked intelligent questions.
When Vancouver made his second visit, he brought sheep as a present to the young chief. Kaumuali‘i entertained him with a dance of six-hundred women.
Kaumuali‘i kept up his interest in foreigners. They were his friends and taught him to read and write. Kaumuali‘i sent his son Humehume (Prince George) to America to be educated. (The young Prince later returned to the islands with the first party of American missionaries, in 1820.)
Kaumuali‘i became ruling chief of Kaua‘i upon the death of his father Kā‘eo.
In 1784 Kamehameha I began a war of conquest, and, by 1795, with his superior use of modern weapons and western advisors, he subdued all other chiefdoms, with the exception of Kaua‘i.
King Kamehameha I launched his first invasion attempt on Kaua‘i in April of 1796, having already conquered the other Hawaiian Islands, and having fought his last major battle at Nu‘uanu on O‘ahu in 1795.
Kaua‘i’s opposing factions (Kaumuali‘i versus Keawe) were extremely vulnerable as they had been weakened by fighting each other (Keawe died and Kaumuali‘i was, ultimately, ruler of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.)
About one-fourth of the way across the ocean channel between O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, a storm thwarted Kamehameha’s warriors when many of their canoes were swamped in the rough seas and stormy winds, and then were forced to turn back.
Kamehameha’s second attempt was thwarted, again, when an epidemic, thought to be typhoid or dysentery, swept through the population, killing thousands. The sickness delayed for a second time Kamehameha’s goal of conquering Kaua‘i.
In a renewed effort for a large-scale attack on Kaua‘i, Kamehameha began assembling a formidable armada of sailing ships in Waikīkī, using foreigners to construct the vessels. The invasion never took place.
In the face of the threat of a further invasion, in 1810, at Pākākā on Oʻahu, negotiations between King Kaumuali‘i and Kamehameha I took place and Kaumualiʻi yielded to Kamehameha.
The agreement marked the end of war and thoughts of war across the islands. Although Kaumuali‘i had ceded Kaua‘i and Niʻihau to Kamehameha I, he generally maintained de facto independence and control of the island following his agreement with Kamehameha.
It is believed that in 1816 Kaumuali‘i considered it possible for him to claim rule over Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i, if he had Russian support. The Russians meanwhile were searching compensation for lost trade goods, as well as expanded trading opportunities.
Kaumuali‘i and Russian representative Georg Anton Schäffer had several agreements to bring Kaua‘i under the protection of Russia, as well as weapons and ammunition from Schäffer, in exchange for trade in sandalwood. While agreements were made, subsequent battles never took place.
After King Kamehameha I died in 1819, Kaumuali‘i pledged his allegiance to Liholiho, Kamehameha’s son and successor. In 1821, Liholiho (King Kamehameha II) anchored his royal ship Ha‘aheo o Hawai‘i (Pride of Hawai‘i) in Waimea Bay, and invited Kaumuali‘i aboard.
After boarding the ship Kaumuali‘i was effectively taken as a prisoner and the ship sailed for O‘ahu. Kaumuali‘i settled in Honolulu and became a husband of Ka‘ahumanu, widow of Kamehameha I.
Hiram Bingham was on a preaching tour of the island of Kaua‘i in 1824, shortly before King Kaumuali‘i died. Kaumuali‘i had been living on Oahu for three years. Bingham spoke to him just before coming to Kaua‘i.
“We found Kaumuali‘i seated at his desk, writing a letter of business. We were forcible and pleasantly struck with the dignity and gravity, courteousness, freedom and affection with which he rose and gave us his hand, his hearty aloha, and friendly parting smile, so much like a cultivated Christian brother.”
When the king died, Bingham said a gloom fell over Kaua‘i. Kaumuali‘i was buried at Waine‘e Church (Wai‘ola Church,) on Maui.
After Kaumuali‘i’s death his son Humehume tried to seize the throne by leading a rebellion on Kauaʻi, but he was defeated and sent to O‘ahu, where he could be watched.
King Kaumuali‘i’s granddaughter Kapiʻolani (1834–1899) married King Kalākaua.
The image is the Mahiole (feather helmet) reportedly to be the gift from Kamehameha I to King Kaumualiʻi for agreeing to peaceful settlement; Kamehameha is said to have given Kaumuali‘i the mahiole, malo and some ‘ahu‘ula (feather capes.)
I have added some other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.